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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. M. Herbert   18 November [1856]1

Down Bromley Kent

Nov 18

Dear Herbert,

It would be both a duty & a pleasure to me to give any suggestion to Lieut. Blakiston.2 But I am at present thus situated: my wife is out of health & expects her confinement in a few weeks, & I cannot possibly receive anyone here or leave home.—3

The middle of January I shall be in London4 and would have much pleasure in meeting Lieutenant Blakiston. Or if that be too late, I would write anything which might suggest itself to me; but to do this I shd wish to know to what branches of Nat. History, Lieut. Blakiston means to attend.

As far as general instructions are concerned, I could not improve those given by me in the “Admiralty Manual of Scientific Instruction.”—5

I was very glad to hear of old friend Watkins.6

Farewell, my dear old friend | Yours most sincerely | Ch. Darwin

If you think fit you could forward this to Lieut. Blakiston.—


The year is established by the reference to Emma Darwin’s pregnancy (see n. 3, below) and the allusion to Thomas Wright Blakiston’s expedition in 1857 (see n. 2, below).
Blakiston evidently sought an interview with CD in preparation for his part in the scientific expedition led by John Palliser to explore British North America between Ontario, Canada, and the Rocky Mountains in 1857 (DNB). No letter from Herbert containing this request has been found.
Charles Waring Darwin, the Darwins’ tenth and last child, was born on 6 December 1856 (Correspondence vol. 6, Appendix II).
CD was in London from 13 to 16 January 1857 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Herschel ed. 1849; there was a second edition in 1851. CD had contributed the section on geology. CD offered some additional ideas for the geologist on Palliser’s expedition in his letter to William Sharpey, 24 January [1857] (Correspondence vol. 6).
Frederick Watkins was a friend of CD’s from Shrewsbury School and a member of the Cambridge dining club dubbed the Glutton Club by Herbert (Shrewsbury School register, Correspondence vol. 1, letter from Frederick Watkins, [18 September 1831] and n. 1).


Defers a visit with Lieutenant Blakiston; "my wife is out of health & expects her confinement in a few weeks, & I cannot possibly receive any one here or leave home . . ."

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Maurice Herbert
Sent from
Source of text
Sotheby’s, New York (dealers) (June 1991); Remember When Antiquities (dealers) (catalogue 26, 1992); Gerard A. J. Stodolski Inc. (dealers) (1995)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2020A,” accessed on 2 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13 (Supplement)